Are You Afraid of Chemotherapy? Know More About Its Procedure, Uses, and Side Effects

Tanuja Bisht

, Health A2Z

Chemotherapy is an attacking form of some chemical drug therapy which is specially meant to destroy the rapidly growing cells in the body. Well, the therapy is normally used to treat cancer, as these cancer cells grow and divide faster than any other cells. It is also known as ‘Chemo.’


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Chemotherapy is a process of using anticancer drugs designed to slow down or halt the growth of quickly dividing cancer cells in the body. The drugs may be used:


  • As an initial treatment to destroy cancer cells.


  • Used to shrink a tumor before another treatment.


  • Used to destroy any remaining cancer cells after the given treatment to a patient.


  • To relieve symptoms associated with advanced cancer.


The process of the therapy is often used in combination with other therapies like radiation, surgery, or any hormone therapy. This mainly depends on:


  • The stage and type of cancer that a patient has.


  • Patient’s overall health.


  • Previous cancer treatments a patient had.


  • Location of the cancer cells in the body.


  • Patient’s personal treatment preferences.



Are You Afraid of Chemotherapy? Know More About Its Procedure, Uses, and Side Effects





Facts Related to Chemotherapy:


Following are some of the key points related to the therapy including;


  • It is used in the treatment of cancer.


  • It helps in preventing disease progression by killing the cells as they divide.


  • Depending on the individual and cancer stage, it can eliminate cancer cells or can have long-term remission of symptoms.




What are the Different Chemotherapy Delivery Methods?


Some of the chemotherapy delivery methods include:


  • Oral method (by mouth as a liquid or pill)


  • Intravenously method (by infusion into a vein)


  • Topically method (applying as a cream on the skin)


  • Injection


  • Direct placement method (through a lumbar puncture or a device placed under the scalp)


When drugs move through the bloodstream to reach cells throughout the body, it is known as systemic chemotherapy. Whereas, when chemotherapy drugs are directed to any specific area of the body, it is known as regional chemotherapy.




How do Chemotherapy Drugs Work?


Several chemo drugs are used to treat cancer either alone or in combination with other drugs and treatments. These drugs are very diverse in their chemical composition, how they are taken, their usefulness in treating a specific type of cancer as well as their side effects.


Chemotherapy works with a cell cycle:


These chemo drugs target cells at different process phases of forming new cells called the cell cycle. With the understanding of how these drugs work helps doctors to predict which drugs are likely to work well together for the treatment. Doctors can also plan on how often doses of each drug should be given based on the timing of the cell phases.


Well, cancer cells produce new cells more quickly than any normal cell and this makes them a better target for chemotherapy drugs. However, these drugs can not tell the difference between a healthy cell and cancer cell, which means some normal cells are damaged along with cancer cells and leads to side effects.


Types of chemotherapy drugs


Chemotherapy drugs are characterized according to how they work. The main types of chemo drugs are:


  • Alkylating drugs


  • Steroid hormones


  • Antitumor antibiotics


  • Topoisomerase inhibitors


  • Antimetabolites


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What are the Common Side Effects of Chemotherapy?


Most people worry about whether they’ll have side effects from chemotherapy, and, if so, what they’ll be like and what they have to do. Here are some of the common side effects caused by  the therapy:





  • Infection


  • Anemia (low red blood cell counts)



  • Appetite changes


  • Constipation



  • Mouth, throat, and tongue problems like sores and pain with swallowing



  • Skin and nail changes like color change and dry skin


  • Urine and bladder changes with kidney problems



  • Chemo brain, which can affect focus and concentration


  • Mood changes


  • Changes in sexual and libido function





Chemotherapy is a process to cure a patient of cancer. It’s a simple process to deal with cancer with the help of a bunch of chemo drugs. Sometimes the therapy shows few side effects which are also curable.


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